During the closing keynote of Saturday’s Educator Collaborative Gathering, Kate Roberts and Maggie Beattie Roberts walked through a few tools that both teachers and students could use to amplify their learning. We are inundated with information, day in and day out, that sometimes it can be overwhelming trying to keep track of it all. While a longer, more reflective post on their closing will come in the next few days, I decided to put a tool I learned about during their session to work for me sooner rather than later—as in, today (talk about DIY teaching 🙂 ).
What’s this tool? A micro-progression.
According to Maggie, “a micro-progression is a progression of a skill that becomes more sophisticated with each level. At the end of the day, skill performance—whether you are structuring a piece of writing, or punctuating a sentence, or making a prediction—skill performance isn’t black and white. It’s not that I either predict really well or not at all. There is a level of performance with that skill.”
Kate goes on to add that “kids know when they’re not doing [the skill]. And they also sometimes get models of what it looks like to do it [in an] awesome [way], but they don’t always get a sense of what is the next step for me as I’m working.”
My ninth graders are currently participating on a discussion board each night to reflect on our shared text, Purple Hibiscus. I decided to “flip” my classroom by having kids actively engaged in deep reading (I hope) during class while discussing the book online. We are only on Day Two of our flipped model and so far, it’s been both scary and eye-opening. When it’s all over, I’ll reflect more on the experience, but for now, back to microprogressions.
One thing that I have noticed in student writing is students’ continued difficulty in embedding textual evidence. (It is one of the Circles of Teacher Hell, right next to the MLA header and main idea v. theme.) Like Kate said, for the most part, it’s not that students either embed or don’t embed textual evidence, but rather that their embedding skills exist on a continuum, a progression. I have spent a lot of time showing students models of correct ways to embed textual evidence—and many variations of embedding—only to have mixed results. Some students are naturals; they can embed text as easily as they can recite their home address. And some students’ attempts at embedding textual evidence feel like nails on chalkboard (and I really hate chalk). And then there are many, many students whose skills are are somewhere in between.
So I spent tonight creating something I’m calling a “Virtual Anchor Chart” (charts are another one of the tools Maggie and Kate discussed, so more on that later) that shows what I think is a decent micro-progression of text embedding skills. I actually pulled one of the examples straight out of a discussion comment one of my students made yesterday.
In their demonstration, Maggie and Kate used three levels. I decided to use the five-star level system because I really was seeing a bigger range of skill development among my students.
Because this is a “virtual” anchor chart, I can post it right up in our digital classroom. As Maggie and Kate pointed out, charts can help students “hold on to their learning.” As a HS teacher, I’ve never had any training in how to create charts, anchor or otherwise. But this year, I’ve made a concerted effort to create anchor charts for my classroom. (I’m still terrible at them, BTW, but I’m optimistic I’ll get better. I have a growth mindset, after all).
Now, instead of me pointing to an anchor chart in the classroom, I can “point” to this virtual anchor chart in our digital classroom by commenting on a student post and providing a direct link to the anchor chart.
Will this work? I’m hopeful. 🙂
UPDATED: Some people have asked what I used to make my micro-progression. I used Canva; in fact, I use Canva for all my visuals! CLICK HERE for a printable of the How to Integrate Quotes micro-progression. If you do use it in any way, I would love to hear how. Or if you make your own series of micro-progressions related to embedding quotes, please share! We can all always use additional examples. Feel free to use the comments below or message me – firstname.lastname@example.org.